In Asem, a riverside hamlet in Egypt, Christian and Muslim villagers grew up together, played on the same soccer fields as kids, and attended the same schools.
But all of that counted for nothing when an argument between boys recently sparked clashes between neighbours, with Muslims torching shops owned by Christians.
Gamal Sobhy, a Christian farmer, ran into the fight to protect his two sons, when someone in the crowd hit him with a stick. Others then jumped in, striking him repeatedly until he fell to the ground with blood seeping from his head.
“The Muslims were yelling, ‘Kill him, kill him,’ ” Sobhy said, a few days after he was released from the hospital.
Five years ago, many among Egypt’s minority Orthodox Coptic Christians thought the discrimination they had long faced from Muslims would begin to disappear when President Mubarak was ousted in Egypt’s revolution, and the military seized control of the country.
However, in the years since then, that sense of hope has evaporated. Attacks against Christians have intensified as mistrust between Christians and Muslims deepens, and community leaders and human rights activists say the smallest of issues are setting off violence, often pitting neighbour against neighbour.
At a time when President al-Sissi’s government is jailing its opponents and struggling to revive a sinking economy, the violence adds a new layer of frustration: Christians strongly supported Sissi’s rise to power, expecting him to protect them after the former army general led a coup that toppled the Islamists.
“As Egyptian citizens, Christians don’t feel they are equal to their Muslim counterparts,” said Bishop Makarios, the head of the Coptic diocese in Minya province, where Asem is situated. “They feel oppressed, and marginalised by the law.”
- Pray for Christians in Egypt, as they daily cope with conflict, discrimination and persecution. Pray for perseverance of faith, and for protection over their homes and families.
- Pray for reconciliation and understanding between Muslims and Christians in Egypt.
- Pray for the Egyptian government to be true to their promise to protect Christians in the country, and to allow and protect freedom of belief for all people.
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to move across this nation, for unity for the Church and for many to encounter Jesus Christ and come to faith in Him.
Ephesians 2 vs 15 – 16: “He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, so that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it“
Source: https://www.stripes.com/news/middle-east, http://www.persecution.org